Mclean, Va — Jeff Skeen has his sights set on 60. Sixty Gold's Gym locations, that is.

Skeen, president and CEO of Titan Fitness, recently announced that his company received private equity backing from WestView Capital Partners, a Boston-based $200 million private equity fund that includes National City Equity Partners, a Cleveland, OH-based private equity fund with more than $1 billion of capital under management. With this investment, Skeen expects to grow his Gold's portfolio to at least 60 locations nationwide during the next five years.

“It is an exciting time for our company as the only Gold's Gym franchisee supported by institutional private equity,” says Skeen.

About half the growth will come from the purchase of existing chains, Skeen says.

“In general, we will buy in a market first and then build additional stores to support the acquisition,” he says. He plans to open eight to 10 locations to support each market in which the company purchases chains.

“We will acquire chains anywhere in the United States as long as the chain has at least three locations with strong local management,” Skeen says.

The company is already off to a running start. Skeen recently purchased 14 locations — eight in Minneapolis and six in Raleigh, NC, he says.

He says the funding from WestView and debt financing from Churchill Financial and Highpoint Capital will allow the company to reach its goals. In 2007, Titan hired M&T Investment Banking Group to assist in raising funding for its growth strategy. Rob White, managing director of M&T, says that there was significant market interest in Titan because of the leadership team at the company, its well-developed growth plans and the strength of the Gold's Gym brand. The team eventually chose WestView because it was a well-capitalized partner, he says.